By and  on December 18, 2008

LONDON — Annick Goutal is going global.

The French fragrance house is ramping up its international presence and widening its product offering in an effort to further develop into a lifestyle brand.

The brand, which has been owned by private investment firm Starwood Capital for three years, plans to at least double its sales in the next five years, increase its freestanding door count almost four-fold in the same time frame and enter new product categories. It will also introduce Un Matin d’Orage, a women’s fragrance, starting in February.

“It’s a bit of a gem,” said Russell Sternlicht, managing director of Starwood Capital, of the Goutal brand, which Starwood purchased as part of the $3.2 billion acquisition of Groupe Taittinger/Société du Louvre in 2005.

Since then, Goutal’s business has grown about 14 percent per year on a like-for-like basis and is expected to close 2008 with revenues in the region of 13 million euros to 14 million euros, or $17.4 million to $18.7 million at current exchange.

Brand executives plan to polish that gem with a strategy that includes increasing Goutal’s freestanding door count from 11 to about 40 in five years. The U.K. is the first country outside Belgium and the brand’s native France to get freestanding Goutal stores. One opened in London’s Mayfair on Dec. 3, and a Belgravia space opened in summer.

“Growing our retail business will also grow wholesale, as it will raise visibility,” said Sternlicht.

Two additional freestanding stores could be opened in London by 2010, said Brigitte Taittinger, president of Annick Goutal. Openings are also slated for Italy, Spain, the U.S. and Dubai next year. Asia is also on the brand’s radar.

Meanwhile, in Goutal’s domestic market, Sternlicht plans to upgrade and in some cases change the locations of its stores, which can be as small as 129 square feet. Some spaces will be remodeled to resemble an 860-square-foot door already opened on Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris, which features an area for the brand’s lingerie line, introduced in the spring.

As well as scrubbing up its distribution, Sternlicht has begun rejuvenating Goutal’s product lineup, which includes women’s and men’s fragrances, as well as a treatment line and candles. The Eau d’Hadrien scent generates about 30 percent of Annick Goutal’s sales, according to Taittinger. Other bestsellers, she said, include the fragrances Petite Chérie, Mandragore, Les Nuits d’Hadrien, Songes and Eau du Sud. Together, the first five references ring up about 65 percent of the company’s sales, she added.

Goutal’s latest scent, Un Matin d’Orage, is meant to channel the ambiance of a Japanese garden after a storm, with notes of gardenia, Sicilian lemon, perilla leaves, ginger, magnolia, jasmine sambac and Indonesian champaca. The fragrance will be added to the brand’s portfolio starting in February.

“The idea is to imagine yourself in a Japanese garden — not a Buddhist Zen-type place, but a real garden with lots of greenery — and smell the plants, leaves and white flowers after a storm as the sun creates a scented mist,” said Camille Goutal, the brand’s creative adviser and daughter of its namesake founder.

Isabelle Doyen, Goutal’s perfumer, blended the eau de toilette, which will retail at 50 pounds, or $75.20 at current exchange, for a 50-ml. spray bottle and 71 pounds, or $106.79, for a 100-ml. spray flacon. The fragrance will also be available in a limited edition 100-ml. orb-shaped bottle topped with a butterfly stopper, which will be priced at 125 pounds, or $187.90. The brand began introducing a slightly tweaked version of its vintage-feel packaging this summer.

“It’s fresher and more modern,” said Sternlicht, adding that Goutal’s logo was also altered slightly.

The brand is also looking at refreshing its skin-care lineup next year. And, as previously reported, a makeup collection will also be part of the brand’s future, though Sternlicht said an introduction is at least two years off.

“It will be very, very Goutal,” said Taittinger.

Gift items like potpourri will also be a focus, as will household linens and the Annick Goutal jewelry collection by Virginie Monroe.

For now, Sternlicht said his goal is to infuse the brand with a modern edge while maintaining its authenticity and a nostalgia factor.

“Annick Goutal is an artisanal brand in a mass world,” said Sternlicht. “We’re looking at how to redefine Goutal in a new world.”

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